BJP Forms ‘Mandir Prakoshth’ to Woo Brahmins Before Polls, Cell to Press State Govts on Benefits for Priests

BJP Forms ‘Mandir Prakoshth’ to Woo Brahmins Before Polls, Cell to Press State Govts on Benefits for Priests

Politics


The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has established a mandir prakoshth (temple cell) to woo the Brahmin community ahead of the crucial Assembly elections this year and the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

Senior party leaders said the panel, formed after a “suggestion” from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, came into being three months ago to consolidate pandits and Brahmins as a bloc and align them with the party.

Sources said the temple cell was the outcome of a discussion leaders had with PM Modi. The functioning of the cell is being monitored by BJP national general secretary (organisation) BL Santhosh.

While the party is planning to launch similar temple cells in every state, it is still assessing the impact of having pandits associate with it as a bloc. Delhi has been chosen to run the cell as a pilot project.

The mandir prakoshth had recently organised mahamrityunjay paath across 1,008 temples in the national capital to pray for PM Modi’s long life following the breach in his security in Punjab this week.

Functioning of the Cell

According to Karnail Singh, the convenor of the temple cell, its main task is to ensure that pandits engaged in “karmkaand” (performing rituals) are taken care of. Singh said 27,000 temples in Delhi are now connected with the party’s temple cell.

“Our objective is to ensure that they too get monthly salaries just like Imams and other get from the government. These pujaris were worst-hit during Covid-19 period as well. They performed poojas at homes as well,” said Singh.

Adesh Gupta, Delhi BJP chief, said the cell is inspired by the central leadership.

“We make cells either on guidance of centre or if there is need in the state. We work on multi-dimensional level. We need to connect and string along all sections of the society. Delhi has too many temples and there is a vast section of pujaris left unattended even by the government. We will pressure the Arvind Kejriwal government to have the same yardstick for giving salaries to religious people and pujaris too should get them,” added Gupta.

Other issues on the cell’s agenda is to get electricity bill of temples waived off, concessions in government-run buses and Metros, and free treatment on priority in hospitals.

Political Significance

While senior leaders maintain that the party is connecting with pujaris as part of its social responsibility, collating the database will help the party reap political gains as well.

“This is part of the party’s vision as well. Why not treat every religion on equal basis? Why salaries to Imams only? Our effort is to connect religious people of same ideology and to address their problems,” said a senior BJP leader.

The party is likely to use the cell to press non-BJP governments to have the same yardstick for those engaged in religious activities, irrespective of their religion. “After Delhi, we would focus on Rajasthan, which is a Congress-ruled state. Our next target will be Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh,” said a senior party leader.

Sources said that if state governments refuse to give equal treatment to pandits, it would expose Congress’ repeated attempt to project itself as pro-Brahmin during elections.

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